The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s plea seeking to transfer cases against him from Uttar Pradesh to another state, reported ANI.
A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud asked the former MLA to approach the Allahabad High Court with the petition. It also directed the High Court to take up the matter expeditiously.
Khan is facing nearly 90 cases for hate speech, corruption and theft, among other charges.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Khan, argued that the former MLA will not get a fair trial in Uttar Pradesh, reported Live Law. Sibal told the court that Khan was convicted in a case even though his petition seeking production of additional evidence was pending in the High Court.
Sibal noted that the conviction led to Khan losing the Rampur seat. The senior advocate was referring to Khan’s conviction in a 2019 hate speech case in which he was sentenced to three years in jail.
He was later disqualified as the Rampur Sadar legislator on the basis of a 2013 Supreme Court judgement, which held that an MLA, MLC or MP convicted in a criminal case and jailed for a minimum of two years will lose membership of the House with immediate effect.
Sibal also claimed that Khan was being harassed as hundreds of first information reports were lodged against him in Uttar Pradesh. He alleged that the police had produced forged documents and the trial court was not taking note of his objections, according to Live Law.
The Supreme Court, however, said it was not convinced with the reasons being cited to transfer the cases against Khan. The bench said a wrong order is not a ground to infer bias and transfer the trial from the state.
“Today trial is being conducted and witness statements are being recorded,” the court said. “This is not a ground for transfer. Can you not challenge this order before the High Court? You can always ask for a transfer before any other district of the State of UP. But you are saying that they won’t hear your plea anywhere in the state. Sorry we cannot transfer.”
Sibal said that transferring the cases to any other district would not be helpful. “It’s not a judge your lordships, it’s the state,” he submitted. “Everywhere it is the same.”
The bench was still not convinced. “When we transfer, we need a far more cogent reasons for transfer,” it said. “We are giving you liberty to approach the High Court but we can’t transfer.”